IT firm to bring satellite broadband to Gitmo

A Virginia communications firm won a $250,000 government contract to bring high-speed broadband Internet to the military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, via satellite.

According to a notice posted on a federal contracting website last week, E&E Enterprises Global will deliver “broadband satellite Internet equipment and subscription for Joint Task Forces Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” 

Satellite Internet service is routinely used by the base’s 6,000 military and civilian residents to keep in touch with friends and family back home, as well as for official purposes.

The military has tried to move off of the satellite hookups in recent years, which can be slow and expensive to maintain. Last year, the Pentagon announced plans to lay undersea fiber-optic cables to connect the military base to the mainland U.S., though that effort is not expected to be finished until next year.

After the military connects the fiber cables to its 45-square-mile base, those lines could then extend to the entire island, officials have said.

The island nation had been entirely dependent on satellite connections for broadband Internet but established a cable link with Venezuela about a year ago.

Still, few Cubans have access to the Internet. To fill the void, the U.S. government has stepped in with at least one Web-like connection, which officials say would allow citizens to circumvent Cuban censors.  

Megan R. Wilson contributed